I spent the last two weeks driving the back roads of Indiana and Illinois farm country. I saw a lot of corn fields and soybean fields, and I hate to admit it took me longer than I’d like to admit about how to tell the difference. (It helps that corn is a lot taller now than soybeans!) I couldn’t help but think about these small rural parishes in farm country that I’m traveling to though. Most of them feel ignored by big city parishes, wealthy suburban parishes, and even the Diocese. They’re hard to travel to when there’s not an interstate in site for miles and even finding a gas station can be rather complicated on a long trip!
As I write today, I’ve attended more than 25 Liturgies via a screen. As someone who can count on one hand the number of times I’ve missed Mass, in a Church, on a Sunday, this has been quite a strange season. I know most of you reading this are feeling the same attending Mass via live-stream. I’m so grateful for our priests and parishes who are working through the wobbliness and strangeness of this entire process. As our associate keeps saying, “It’s very strange to say Mass looking at an iPad.”
In the midst of an inability to celebrate public Masses and social distancing this week and in the coming weeks, I wanted to share some ideas for staying connected to parishioners. This is not exhaustive nor the only set of ideas out there, but I believe we can become a stronger community when we face this together without a sense of fear. In Scripture we are told, “Be Not Afraid” more than 365 times! Now is the time to show what our faith means to us, even if we are not gathering for weekly Mass.
If your parish is going to be closed for the next few weeks or months, there are ways available to you to stream the private Masses your pastor might be doing in a way that invites the whole community to worship.
What do you do when you see a new person at Mass? Run toward them? Or away? Do you wait for them to come a second time? What if they don’t?
I’m reminded of a song that goes “But it’s the little things that make a difference; It’s the little things that show love; It’s the little things. A simple cup of water that can change the world, That can save our sons and daughters” (Little Things by JJ Heller). It is the small things that make a difference in our communities and parish families!